THE NEWBERG REPORT — DECEMBER 24, 2006
There are some sports moments you don’t forget, not the moments that return to you for days and weeks and sometimes years because of televised highlights or radio soundbites but the type that bookmark themselves forever because they blindside you, less because of their impact than because of the sense that there’s almost no chance you could have ever imagined something like it happening.
What follows is not an analysis of the Rangers’ Saturday trade of John Danks, Nick Masset, and Jake Rasner to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy and David Paisano, but a rehashing (to the best of my ability) of my initial thoughts about the deal. My very initial thoughts.
1. First thought: Get a News Flash out. I don’t like this trade.
2. Next: Two years ago, when he was 21, McCarthy might have been the most heralded pitching prospect in baseball. OK, maybe I like it.
3. The deal obviously means both teams agreed McCarthy was worth more in trade than Danks, today. But to account for that difference, whatever it was perceived to be, did the even-up have to be Masset? Not happy.
4. That unforgettable game McCarthy pitched on August 30, 2005 in Arlington, matched up against Edinson Volquez in the back end of a twinbill . . . a game that was supposed to be all about Volquez’s big league debut but was instead remarkable because of the manner in which McCarthy logged his first big league win, blanking the Rangers in their own house on two hits and a walk over 7.2 innings. Happy.
5. McCarthy is right-handed. Danks is left-handed. In and of itself, troubling.
6. Maybe this indication that Jon Daniels wanted the guy who he thinks has the better chance to help Texas win now helps on the Michael Young, Mark Teixeira, and Barry Zito fronts. I like that.
7. I’ve known Danks and Masset and their families since each pitcher was 20 years old, have seen them grow on the field and off of it, and that makes this extra tough. That part *****.
8. Though it’s not right to judge a deal before it plays out on the field for a while, we all of course develop an immediate assessment, and my gut reaction is generally based on who got the best player. That’s not easy to say here – we could all make a case for three of the five players involved being that guy – but objectively speaking, most would say McCarthy is that guy right now. Believe in this.
9. But since eight or nine pitchers out of 10 don’t ever become what they’re touted to be capable of, the Sox’s odds of coming out ahead are greater, because they’re not betting on just one guy. Stomach ache sets in.
10. But McCarthy is the one guy who’s really done it, at least intermittently, in the major leagues. Stomach ache becomes ice cream headache.
And that all hit me in the first five minutes. Seriously.
Here’s the thing: It’s almost impossible to imagine a Tony Romo for Vince Young trade. Because neither team would ever give up its guy.
And if it actually did happen, the fans of both teams would hate it. We’re all territorial about our own players, especially the ones who grew up in our team’s uniform. General managers and scouts surely tend to be territorial, too, and that’s why trades like this one seem to never happen. I racked my brain last night trying to think of the last trade that involved top-tier pitching prospects for top-tier pitching prospects, with no contract or free agency issues involved on either side. Still coming up empty.
The reaction of hundreds of Rangers fans whose opinions I read in emails or on the message board yesterday provided nothing close to a consensus about this trade. Most liked it for Texas or thought it was a win-win, though the meter was decidedly more against the deal early in the day than later on. Almost every White Sox fan whose opinion I read hated the trade.
But every fan who shared his or her opinion was passionate about it. This is clearly a trade that, one way or another, will be talked about for years and years.
I have a thousand thoughts and a hundred questions. What it comes down to for me is simple, and yet impossible to answer: Which organization has the more shrewd corps of pro scouts, the grinders whose names for the most part you wouldn’t recognize but whose impact in decisions like the one Daniels and Kenny Williams made on Saturday can’t be overstated?
Whether it’s Texas’s scouting crew or Chicago’s that turns out to be more correct about what McCarthy and Danks and Masset will be, not to mention Rasner and Paisano, that’s where the correctness, and the wisdom, of this trade gets defined.
I’ll have a lot more to say about this trade in a couple days. Doubt I’ll be any more certain about how smart a trade it is, but I’ll at least get a lot deeper into the analysis of the exchange.